Saburo Sakai's AAPacific Essays - #4 The Art of Bidding

  • Sun Tzu said:Â

    Carefully compare the opposing army with your own,
    so that you may know where strength is superabundant
    and where it is deficient.

    When a general, unable to estimate the enemy’s
    strength, allows an inferior force to engage a larger one,
    or hurls a weak detachment against a powerful one,
    and neglects to place picked soldiers in the front rank,
    the result must be rout.

    In order to carry out an attack, we must have
    means available.

    For experienced players of AAPacific, it will soon become apparent that the Out of the Box rule permitting a Japanese victory upon reaching 22 Victory Points (VPs) unbalances the game in favour of Japan.  With the option of going for an India or Australia capture or playing to 22 VPs, Japan has too many avenues to victory for the Allies to overcome.  Therefore, as Sun Tzu says, it is necessary for the Allied general to carefully compare the strength of his army to that of Japan and acquire the means to carry out an attack.

    Generally, a bid comes in one of the following four forms:

    1.  VP Bid
    2   IPC Unit Bid
    3.  IPC Bid
    4.  Inverse IPC Bid

    The VP Bid

    At 22 VPs, Japan has the advantage.  In a future essay, I will discuss the tactics used to achieve a VP victory but suffice it to say that with the OOB rules (even using the corrected setup), Japan can usually count on a VP track of 3-4-4-4-3-3-1 = 22 which will result in victory by J7.  A victory is quite achievable by J6 if Japan can get 4 VPs on J5.Â

    A VP bid stretches out the VP track to at least J8, giving the Allies one more turn to set up an SBR base from which to rob Japan of VPs or capture territories or convoy routes taking Japan below the IPCs it needs to stay in the game.

    The mechanics of a VP bid are simple.  Both players secretly record the number of VPs at which they would like to play Japan and the higher number wins.  If both players bid the same, the Japanese player is chosen at random.Â

    VP bids usually range from 23 to 26.  In my view, the game is fairly balance at 24 or 25 VPs.  At 24, the game slightly favours Japan.  At 25, the game slightly favours the Allies.  However, this slight advantage can easily be overcome by the dice or superior play, so the game is essentially balanced by the VP bid.

    There is, however, one problem with the VP bid.  If the Japanese player chooses to initiate a KIO attack (see previous essays), the bid has no impact on the game and Japan may have an insurmountable advantage.  The KIO attack assumes the game will be over by the end of round 4 which means that VPs will never come into play.  In some cases, a Japanese player who wants to go for a KIO attack will enter a bid of 99 or some other impossibly high number to ensure that they will play Japan.  After that, it is really up to the dice to determine the outcome of the game as the counter to the KIO attack is so difficult and dependent on a significant amount of luck.

    To counteract the disadvantages inherent in the VP bid system, various IPC bid systems have been created.

    The IPC Unit Bid

    An IPC Unit Bid is an equivalent number of IPCs bid by the Allied player that he will be able to immediately place on the board in Allied units prior to the start of J1.  IPCs can also be saved to spend on Allies 1.  The VP target for Japan remains at 22.  The Allied player can only place units in territories already controlled by the Allies or in which the Allied player already has units.  US units cannot be placed in China.  The player who bids the lower number plays Allies.

    As will be clear considering the type of bid, the combination of bid amounts and unit placement are many.  In most cases, however, the Allied player should place his new units in a way that will provide the most assistance to India.   Bids will range from 16 to 24.  Some Allied players prefer to place all of their units on land in Asia (4 Rtl in Burma is popular) while others look to enhance the naval strength of their UK forces by the addition of submarines in key locations.  The most important point to remember is to not waste your bid units by placing them where they can be easily hit by a J1 surprise attack.

    The IPC Bid

    This bid adds IPCs to the Allied total that can be used to purchase units on Allies 1.  The IPCs can be divided amongst all Allied nations.  The lower bid plays Allies.Â

    As the units purchased with this bid cannot be placed until the end of Allies 1, bids will tend to be higher using an IPC bid only.  Bids in the 20 to 28 range would be typical, with the majority of the extra IPCs awarded to India, a few to Australia and sometimes 1 to the US.

    The large purchasing power for India usually prevents the Japanese player from attempting an India Crush as India will be too strong for a J3 or J4 attack to be successful.

    The Inverse IPC Bid

    In an inverse IPC Bid, both players bid for a number of IPCs to be awarded to the Allied player.  The player that bids higher will play Japan and the Allied player receives IPCs equal to the Japanese player bid that can be distributed amongst the 3 Allied nations and spent on Allies 1.  The game is then played to 24 VPs for Japan.

    With a 24 VP target, bids using this format tend to be in the 12 to 15 range.  This is just enough to provide India with enough defensive units to discourage a KIO attack but not so much as to unbalance the game in favour of the Allies.  This bidding method was adopted by Days of Infamy AAPacific Club after their 2005 tournament “Battle for India”.Â

    IPCs tend to be allocated mostly to India with some players providing 1 to the US (to permit a 2 Sub, 4 Bmr A1 purchase) and 4 to Australia (for 3 subs).

    In my view the inverse IPC bid creates the right balance between the two sides while at the same time creating many strategic options for the playout.  The bid tends to push the game in the direction of a VP victory although it does not preclude an opportunistic India or Australia capture.  What this bid system does do is generally eliminate the KIO option for the Japanese, which, in my opinion, is a good thing.

    Saburo Sakai

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